Monday, November 2, 2009


No Sales Clerks And Unintelligible Call Centres

I searched a store the other day for a clerk. No luck. So I left. No sale!
I called Bell to have my cottage phone turned off for six months. They call it, I believe, interrupted service, which sounds like normal Bell service. Talked to some person for half an hour in some foreign language which was supposed to be English. It should have been a simple understandable operation.
I believe the bank has upgraded our credit card without charge, and there are supposed to be marvelous but unknown advantages, but it will take at least an hour to figure it out. And I just don't have the patience, having dealt with TD-Canada Trust over my internet banking account on three occasions in the last week. My threshold for pain is high, but not that high.
I wrote Sept.3 about my last misadventure with Bell. I called it The Wrong Numbers of Bell. Things haven't improved but then no one, including frustrated Bell staff, figured they would. So Bell will slip into oblivion, just like its old subsidiary of Nortel. I must sell my stock before it falls even more.
I have written about the Sears repairman coming to look at the squeak in the dryer who stalked out without doing a thing after I complained he had parked across my driveway. He said he wasn't allowed to leave his truck on the street. I said it was on the street, only it was across my driveway. Phoned Sears and they were aggressive in his defence. Haven't seen him since, so Sears also won't see a new cheque for their useless service contract.
But then the call centre wasn't even in the Greater Toronto Area. At least it may have been in Ontario. I almost don't mind when the telephone operator that comes on the party line at the cottage when I phone long distance talks first in French. I can understand French better than that last call to the Bell call centre which may have been in India or on the moon or ....
I didn't want to sound racist so I kept apologizing after each of her sentences, saying that I had no idea what she was saying. I am saving my anger for Bell bureaucrats and the cunning merchandisers of Walmart and all the stupid retailers who figure that the way to prosperity is to have as few staff around as possible. And if they can, let's have them in some remote foreign city where people get paid only a fraction of Canadians while pretending to give service as Canadians.
It is time to put the service back in the service industry. After all, it is not as if there aren't many people just aching for a job. Unemployment in this country is 8.4%. It's even higher in Toronto, but the figures don't show it, because we are surrounded by people, especially youths, who have given up trying to find real work instead of just frying on weekends.
Just imagine how many people would be hired if our companies stopped doing everything on the cheap. Imagine how many people would love even a $12-an-hour job instead of just spending the day staring into space.
What we need is our stores and giant companies to start hiring again instead of trying to be lean and oh so mean.
You know what, I would patronize those stores and companies ahead of all the jerk outfits which just want to make a buck and the unemployed are out of luck. Might even pay a bit more for the item, because after all there would be a clerk to serve me.
There should be a Canada label with our lovely flag on it that companies could display when they stopped outsourcing to the Third World. They could display this symbol if they had a decent number of staff. There could be an Internet site where people could squeal on companies that cheat. They wouldn't be able to use the symbol in their advertising if phone calls were answered by machines that told you that real people might be available in 10 minutes or so. Or you have to listen to directories of supposed services.
I routinely use the Internet for info and even to buy stuff. Of course it's economic for companies to use the Internet as a sales and marketing tool. But there are many Canadians, because of age or circumstance, who don't use computers or have Internet links. Why do so many companies ignore that fact in their operation? Why do they make it so difficult to wring service out of them.
I don't mind the absence of staff in Costco because the prices are so low and the quality is so high. But like Tom Friedman of the New York Times, the perennial Pulitzer winner who told in his best seller The World Is Flat how much he hates Walmart because of the primitive cheap way they treat their staff, I don't shop in a chain that relies on sweat shops. (Friedman likes Costco, by the way.)
There are companies making obscene profits which keep firing at the same time. Sun Media makes a lot of money even though , to judge by the empty desks at their flagship operation The Toronto Sun, it acts like it's bankrupt. Just in the morality at head office!
In the Financial Post Magazine's latest survey of Canadian CEOs, Pierre Karl Peladeau is ranked 110th, which seems awfully high. He runs Quebecor, some would say into the ground. Quebecor, which owns Sun Media, had a profit last year of $187,300,000, while Peladeau himself was paid a basic $1.2 million before various goodies.
Wouldn't it be nice to see stories in the newspapers about companies saying they were hiring 10% more staff. Instead we have the reverse, a daily diet of layoffs. And so, in a sour economy, the blight of unemployment is never going to ease because too many companies fire rather than hire. And then some close, because in the end, there are fewer employed people to buy their products.
Answering machines and foreign call centres aren't consumers. But even the humble people who just answered the telephone were. The jerks should bring back the clerks!
The dead hand of all the firings and layoffs doesn't just blight the unemployed. It also has a toll on those left behind, all those at Bell and the Sun who now have to do more, a lot more.
As David King, executive vice president of a staffing firm, Robert Half International, said in a recent National Post interview, their research showed the vast majority of employees being "somewhat happy" with their jobs. But it's not necessarily because they love their job, they just appreciate they have to cut costs because of the economy. When the economy improves, King warns, half of them plan to leave their current employer. Hardly a happy work force, at Bell or the Sun or indeed in the entire country.
Is there anyone foolish enough to think that the 50% who contemplate quitting are running around right now doing a lot of consuming? They just go home at night aching right into their bones with fatigue and become couch potatoes, many leaving the shopping beyond the necessities to the few who are confident about their future.
The foolish few!


Unknown said...

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Anonymous said...

Affiliate Marketing is a performance based sales technique used by companies to expand their reach into the internet at low costs. This commission based program allows affiliate marketers to place ads on their websites or other advertising efforts such as email distribution in exchange for payment of a small commission when a sale results.


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